End of Life Decisions & Legal Implications
Beyond the estate planning documents that you devise, you may want to provide your wishes for certain arrangements in the aftermath of your death. For example, you may have a preference for how your life should be commemorated in a memorial service or funeral. You may want to contribute various organs to assist people who need transplants in restoring their health or to help medical professionals with their research. If you have an online presence, you can instruct the executor of your estate regarding how to close out this aspect of your life.
Planning a funeral in advance can help avoid disagreements among family members over what their loved one would have wanted. It also can involve a payment plan, helping your loved ones celebrate your life or mourn your death without concerns over costs. You can consider whether you would prefer to have a traditional funeral or a memorial ceremony, or a combination. There also may be less common alternatives to explore, such as a visitation or a wake. A funeral plan can outline very specific requests for the people whom you want to speak at a service, the place where it should occur, and the clothes that your body should wear, among other things. You should keep your funeral plan in a safe place and alert family members to its existence.
Organ or Body Donations
You can use a living will or advance health care directive to state your intent to donate certain organs or tissues, such as your heart, lungs, kidneys, or eyes. This document can designate organs or tissues for transplant use or for medical research, or both. You may want to discuss your preferences with your family members in advance to avoid any efforts (intentional or unintentional) to override your plans after your death. Sometimes a person nearing the end of their life plans to donate their entire body to a medical institution for research. It can be returned to their loved ones afterward for burial or cremation. For medical reasons, a full body donation is an alternative rather than a complement to an organ donation.
Planning Your Digital Legacy
Many people participate in websites, blogs, and social media, which can offer a way to build relationships with others and preserve memories of important moments in their lives. The company that operates any online account will regain control of the account after you pass away, so you may want to leave instructions for what should happen to the contents of these accounts. For example, you can ask your executor to print out or archive important emails and their attachments, or download files from online storage to preserve them. Your executor also can post status updates on social media accounts to inform others of your death. You should give your executor access to any online accounts that control your finances, including log-ins and passwords, so that they can handle payments on behalf of your estate.
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